Family and medical leave

Eligible employees have the right to take unpaid leave.

Under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), eligible employees of covered employers have the right to take unpaid, job-protected leave for specified family and medical reasons with continuation of group health insurance coverage under the same terms and conditions as if the employee had not taken leave. Upon return from FMLA leave, generally, you must be restored to your original job or to an equivalent job with equivalent pay, benefits, and other terms and conditions of employment. Your use of FMLA leave cannot be counted against you under a “no-fault” attendance policy.

Certain people may have the right to take unpaid leave without fear of getting fired if they are an eligible employee of a covered employer. Being an eligible employee typically means working for their employer at least 12 months, at least 1,250 hours over the past 12 months, and working at a location where the company employs 50 or more employees within 75 miles.

If eligible, you are entitled to 12 workweeks of leave in a 12-month period:

  • for the birth of a child and to care for the newborn child within one year of birth
  • for adoption or foster care placement and to care for the newly placed child within one year of placement
  • to care for your spouse, child, or parent who has a serious health condition
  • for a serious health condition that keeps you from performing the essential functions of your job
  • any qualifying exigency arising out of the fact that your spouse, child, or parent is a covered military member on “covered active duty
Portraits of a day old Hispanic/Caucasian mixed race baby girl. Shot from over the shoulder of the mother to give focus and perspective to the babies beautiful face.

We’re here to help.

We are committed to helping you understand your rights as a worker. Many questions about wage rights may be answered by using the following elaws (Employment Laws Assistance for Workers and Small Businesses) Advisor:

For additional assistance, please contact:

The Wage and Hour Division of the U.S. Department of Labor: 1-866-4-US-WAGE (1-866-487-9243)

All discussions with us, including complaints, are free and confidential. Your name and the nature of the complaint will not be disclosed to your employer. The only time we would share such information is when necessary to pursue an allegation, and we would only do so then with your permission, or if required by a court.

If you are the spouse, child, parent, or next of kin of an ill or injured covered service member, you are entitled to 26 workweeks of leave during a single 12-month period to provide care for the service member.

Additionally, some state laws may offer job protection or paid leave benefits for medical, caregiving and parental leave. To find out more, contact your state agency or your employer’s Human Resource office.

Additional resources

Need more information?
The elaws (Employment Laws Assistance for Workers and Small Businesses) Advisors are a set of online tools developed by the U.S. Department of Labor to help employees and employers understand their rights and responsibilities under Federal employment laws.